Throwback Thursday: A WWE Network Birthday Tribute to Raven

September 8, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

Today marks the 52nd birthday of one of the most popular and influential superstars of the 1990’s — Raven! Scott Levy went from working the dying territory system to the dysfunction of early-’90s WCW before finding moderate success as Johnny Polo in the WWF.

But it wasn’t until Scott Levy created “Raven” that Levy’s career truly took off.

WWE Network - A Birthday Tribute to Raven
WWE Network - Raven as ECW World Heavyweight Champion

To celebrate Levy’s birthday, Throwback Thursday on WDN pauses to take a look back at 10 of Raven’s greatest matches and hidden gems with the help of, that’s right, the WWE Network.

 
World Light Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 5:05)
Scotty Flamingo vs. “Flyin'” Brian Pillman(c)
WCW Beach Blast ’92 ? June 20, 1992

Scott Levy debuted in WCW in April 1992 as Scott Flamingo and, after few gimmick tweaks, rose quickly through the Light Heavyweight division. This was a solid, technical, deliberate match that showed the potential of both men. One thing to keep an eye on in this one is the psychology of Flamingo, something that would mark the remainder of Scott Levy’s career. With this win Flamingo became the 4th (out of an eventual five) WCW Light Heavyweight Champion, ending Pillman’s second and final reign at 113 days.

 
“Grudge Match” (WATCH – 9:41)
Special Guest Commentators: WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre)
Marty Jannetty vs. Johnny Polo
WWF Monday Night RAW #45 ? December 27, 1993 (TAPED: December 13, 1993)

WWE Network - Johnny Polo (Raven) vs. Marty Jannetty on RAW

Scott Levy debuted in the WWF with Atom Bomb as Bomb’s manager “Johnny Polo” in May of 1993. On the September 13, 1993 edition of RAW, Polo began managing The Quebecers, helping them win the WWF Tag Team titles from The Steiner Brothers. Though Polo wrestled at house shows from time to time, Polo had yet to really wrestle on WWF TV. That was until Polo interfered in a match between 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty on the October 25, 1993 edition of RAW, leading to a double count out and this “grudge match” two months later. The match itself is quite good, telling a great story and employing the kind of psychology that would come to mark the career of Levy.

 
“Grudge Match” (WATCH – 6:55)
Raven w/Stevie Richards & Beulah McGillicutty vs. Tommy Dreamer
ECW Hardcore TV #104 ? April 18, 1995 (TAPED: April 8, 1995 ECW 3 Way Dance)

Raven debuted in ECW (1:50) on the January 10, 1995 edition of ECW Hardcore TV after Stevie Richards, who had been wrestling under the various ring names of Scott Levy for weeks, promised to produce the “real” Johnny Polo. From the very beginning Raven’s mission was the elimination of Tommy Dreamer from ECW. This wild, bloody brawl features the debut of Beulah McGillicutty, the catalyst of the Raven/Dream story, in one of ECW’s most memorable moments. This early feud with Dreamer helped to not only elevate both wrestlers but ECW as a whole, creating one of the first must-see storylines in ECW.

 
ECW World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 32:05)
Raven w/Stevie Richards, Blue Meanie, & Kimona Wanalaya vs. The Sandman(c) w/Woman
ECW Hardcore TV #145 ? January 30, 1996 (TAPED: January 27, 1996)

WWE Network - Raven vs. The Sandman, ECW World Heavyweight Championship

While the feud with Tommy Dreamer proved Raven could be as hardcore as anyone else in ECW, it was the war with The Sandman that saw Raven at his psychological and manipulative best. Before Raven turned Sandman’s own wife and son against him, Raven would first take the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. This match also marked the last appearance of Woman in ECW, as she would leave and return to WCW after this event. Raven, winning his first of an eventual two ECW World titles, ended Sandman’s third (of an eventual five) ECW World title reign at 49 days with this victory, setting the table for one of ECW’s most memorable and important programs in company history.

 
“No Disqualification, Anything Goes Match” (WATCH – 17:55)
Stevie Richards vs. Raven
WCW Clash of the Champions XXXV ? August 21, 1997

In June of 1997 Raven left ECW and returned to World Championship Wrestling, along with Stevie Richards, who made his in-ring debut the Saturday before COTC XXXV. The main angle at the time of this match was Raven’s refusal to sign a WCW contract and demanding the matches to be fought under Raven’s “no DQ, anything goes” rules. While this match isn’t a classic, it helped establish Raven and his hardcore style, and was but a taste of the violence to come in WCW as they made a conscious effort to mimic ECW.

 
WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “Raven’s Rules” (WATCH – 2:05:29)
Raven vs. Diamond Dallas Page(c)
WCW Spring Stampede ’98 ? April 19, 1998

WWE Network - Raven DDT'ing Diamond Dallas Page for WCW United States Championship

By this time in 1998 Raven was one of WCW’s biggest stars not tied to the nWo, and the angle with DDP, where Raven attacked DDP and stole Page’s U.S. title on an episode of MTV Live, was red hot. But, thanks to some shortsighted booking, Raven was only given the win so that Goldberg had an upper mid-card heel to blow through the next night on NITRO, a move that crushed Raven’s heat, credibility, and momentum overnight. So, for all intents and purposes, this match represents Raven’s high water mark in WCW. The match is a fun, wild brawl that still stands up as one of the best matches of either man’s WCW tenure. Though the DDP/Raven feud would continue in WCW, it lost much of the magic that made it work when Goldberg crushed Raven. This marked the end of DDP’s first U.S. title reign at 115 days, and was the first and last U.S. title win of Raven’s career, a reign that lasted less than 24 hours.

 
“6-Man Tag Team War” (WATCH – 2:09:24)
“The Rookie Monster” Rhyno & The Impact Players (Justin Credible & Lance Storm) w/Jason & Dawn Marie Bytch vs. Tommy Dreamer & Raven(ECW World Tag Team Champions), & The Sandman w/Francine
ECW November 2 Remember ’99 ? November 7, 1999

After walking out of WCW, Raven made a surprise return to ECW, helping Tommy Dreamer defeat the WWF-bound Dudley Boyz for the tag titles on the September 3, 1999 edition of ECW on TNN, quickly becoming the most dysfunctional tag team in ECW history. Raven and Dreamer could never get along, with Raven costing Dreamer one singles match after another and leaving Dreamer for dead in non-title tag team matches. The Impact Players, meanwhile, were riding high after supposedly driving the likes of Sandman and Shane Douglas out of ECW, with Dreamer and Raven next on the list. This match from N2R ’99 is a fitting battle between the old guard of ECW and new blood that was to carry the promotion into the future.

 
“Grudge Match” (WATCH – 21:47)
Justin Credible w/Jason vs. Raven
ECW on TNN #25 ? February 11, 2000 (TAPED: February 5, 2000)

WWE Network - Raven vs. Justin Credible, ECW on TNN #25

Tommy Dreamer and Raven lost the ECW Tag titles to The Impact Players at ECW’s Guilty as Charged 2001 in January after Raven took a cane shot to the head that was meant for Francine. Dreamer, already leery of Raven (who claimed he and Dreamer were “best friends”), believed Raven was trying to steal Francine from him as he had done Beulah. The two came to blows earlier in this edition of ECW on TNN after Raven hit Francine with a DDT after being blinded with powder from Mikey Whipwreck. This marked the first one-on-one meeting between Raven and Justin Credible, and it’s the street fight fans were expecting it to be. With Dreamer at the hospital with Francine and believing Raven was out to double-cross him, Raven was left at the mercy of The Impact Players.

 
WWF Hardcore Championship – “Triple Threat Match” (WATCH – 30:39)
Hardcore Holly vs. Raven vs. Steve Blackman(c)
WWF Monday Night RAW #396 ? December 25, 2000 (TAPED: December 22, 2000)

Raven left ECW for the final time in July 2000 and returned to the WWF during the Tazz/Jerry Lawler match at SummerSlam 2000. Raven bounced from one angle to the next until finding his niche in the Hardcore division. This wild, chaotic match marked Raven’s first of a record 27 (Raven says 39) Hardcore Championship wins.

 
WWF Hardcore Championship – “Triple Threat Match” (WATCH – 24:44)
Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven(c)
WWF WrestleMania X-Seven ? April 1, 2001

WWE - Kane Throws Raven Throw Glass Window, Hardcore Match at WrestleMania 17

This match, Raven’s only WrestleMania appearance, essentially was the high water mark for Raven in the WWF. One of the craziest (and amusing) WrestleMania matches of all-time, this remains the best of four Hardcore Championship matches in the title’s history. Kane walked out of WrestleMania X-Seven with his first and only Hardcore title win, ending Raven’s 11th reign at 13 days. While Raven would go to win the Hardcore title 16 more (official) times, Raven would become a journeyman in the WWF by the summer of 2001 and the start of the “Invasion angle”. By the summer of 2002 Raven would be working nearly exclusively on Heat, trying to get a new gimmick off the ground that was ultimately killed. Raven was released from the WWE in January 2003 after losing a Royal Rumble qualifying match to Jeff Hardy.

 
Final Thoughts

What about Raven? As these 10 matches illustrate, Scott Levy, whether as Scotty Flamingo, Johnny Polo, or Raven, possessed the kind of natural ability and ring psychology that simply cannot be taught. A one of a kind performer, Scott Levy brought the Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt to pro wrestling, cutting a path for wrestling that had never quite existed on the big stage. Whatever your thoughts on Raven are, there will likely never be another like him again.

Quote the Raven, ‘Nevermore’.

WWE Network - A Birthday Tribute to Raven
WWE Network - A Birthday Tribute to Raven

That’s a wrap for this week’s TBT – thanks for reading! Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then celebrate Raven’s birthday with these classic matches and let us know what you think.

For more of the latest Network goings-on, stop by our friends at WWENetworkNews.com.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

 
WWE Network - Backlash 2016

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8 Comments left on this article...

  1. bob says:

    Raven’s hardcore title match against Rhyno at the 2001 Backlash is his best match in the company and deserves an honorable mention

    • Brock Allen says:

      You have no idea how close the match came to making the list. It’s one of my favorite Hardcore title matches and certainly one of Raven’s best WWE matches. Had it not been for the significance of the WM match it would have been the closer for sure. Trust me, it was not an easy cut to make. I went back and forth on it for some time before making the decision. Thank you for reading, Bob, and taking the time to comment. Take care!

  2. Anan says:

    Am a fan of Raven’s work. Very creative. He’s a wrestling genius, plain and simple. Loved his effort in the WM17 Hardcore 3-Way. He took a lot from two 7 foot monsters. WWF was my introduction to Raven. But The Flock from WCW and maybe more so, his days in ECW will be mostly remembered, probably.

    • Brock Allen says:

      The match aside, I still laugh when I see Raven hit the brakes AFTER crashing the golf cart. Classic stuff. It was a tremendous match that really doesn’t get the credit it deserves. You are right, though, Raven’s work in ECW changed the industry. I still say his promos were every bot as good as anything Jake Roberts ever did. Thanks for reading Anan, and leaving a comment. Take care!

  3. WCWWFan says:

    What about the triple threat between Raven, DDP and Chris Benoit at Uncensored ’98 for the U.S. title? That’s got to be one of the best triple threat matches in WCW that I’ve seen.

    • Brock Allen says:

      That was another match, like the Backlash match with Rhyno, that I went back and forth on. Again, like with the WM 17 match, I felt the historical significance of the Clash match outweighed the greatness of the Triple Threat. Thanks for reading, WCWWFan, and leaving a comment. Take care!

  4. Indyfan says:

    Quite possibly the most under rated and under appreciated wrestler and wrestling mind the business has ever had. I’m a huge fan of his work and ideas. Great article and some great matches!!!

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